Saccades operate in violation of Hick’s law
Hick’s law states that response times (RTs) increase in proportion to the logarithm of the number of potential stimulus-response (S-R) alternatives. We hypothesized that time-consuming processes associated with response selection contribute significantly to this effect. We also hypothesized that the latency of saccades might not conform to Hick’s law since visually guided saccades can be automatically selected using topographically organized pathways that convert spatially coded visual activity into spatially coded motor commands. We evaluated these hypotheses by examining three response modalities for their compliance with Hick’s law: saccades directed to a visual target (prosaccades), saccades directed away from the target (antisaccades) and manual responses in which each digit was associated with a specific target location (key-press responses). Both antisaccades and key-press responses conformed to Hick’s law but saccade latencies were completely unaffected by S-R uncertainty. The significance of these findings is considered in terms of the processes of response selection and premotor programming.